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Making a Small Library Staff More Effective

Campbellton Centennial Library

The story is a familiar one: a librarian goes to a conference, gets excited about a session, then comes back to reality.

In this story, reality turned into a happy ending after Eva Fischer, Campbellton Centennial Library's Head of Reference Services, saw LibraryAware at an APLA (Atlantic Provinces Library Association) conference. Fischer, "very excited" after the presentation, came back and told director Jocelyn Paquette about it. Paquette, already a NoveList fan, was immediately intrigued.

Reality Check (the 'Before')

Of the five Central Resource libraries in the New Brunswick Public Libraries Service, Campbellton is the smallest, with a population of less than 7,000. Close to Quebec, they serve a diverse community, providing programming and outreach -- from partnering with a community garden to hosting a story tent in a low-income neighborhood. "Community partnerships are really important to us," says Paquette. Busy with services, Fischer and her colleagues (7 fulltime, 3 part-time) had a work process that functioned fairly well for them. For example, creating a flyer for a book display using a tool like Publisher was no problem for, staffers like Line, a 9-year library assistant who can, according to Fischer, "make Publisher sing."  However, as many busy librarians can attest, time can be the enemy when it comes to creating promotional materials while simultaneously serving patrons.  

"This has been a team building and individual creative source for all my staff. In ten years, nothing else has had such an positive impact for personal growth at many levels of positions on our team."

--Jocelyn Paquette, Director

Fast Forward (the 'After')

Paquette realized that her staff became a team after she provided them with a tool that enhances their everyday needs. She credits Fischer with introducing LibraryAware to everyone else, adding, "[Fischer] is our techno-guru. She's totally unafraid. Her attitude was, the way to learn it is to tinker with it: 'OK! This is how it works; who's ready?'"  Paquette said, "Within days, everyone was on board." "It [LibraryAware] belongs to them; that's the thing I've never seen before." 

Even after 5 months Paquette is already seeing what it does for her team.

A More Efficient Team

Fischer appreciates the efficiency with which she can create flyers and posters: "It takes half a day, if that" and she likes being able to edit the same poster on two different computer stations – without interference or worrying about having the latest version. She also enjoys the benefit of vetted images minus the clip art. Paquette believes selecting images is easier than, say, selecting clip art in other software and worrying about copyright. And, "In LA you know that the images are vetted."

Fischer found that LibraryAware helps tap into the effectiveness of using visuals, "Words don't attraction attention, pictures do. It maximizes the whole picture is worth a thousand words thing." She makes frequent use of LibraryAware's poster format.  Paquette is equally enthusiastic about the ability to create a bookmark to give to the community to promote one of their many outreach programs, such as their community garden series. Says Paquette, "We used to have a pamphlet, which would go out-of-date within a short time. Now we have pieces for adults, teens and children that feature what we want to feature each week. LibraryAware lets us do that. It's an absolute joy to have real, professional output."


   One of the items Campbellton staff created to promote their programs and services.

Creative Power

Library clerk Géraldine Lebel likes that LibraryAware 'broke the barrier," bringing clerks and librarians together. She loves being able to "whip out something new," adding, "Everything is right there – all you have to do is fill in the blanks." Circulation staff can create simple notice posters in minutes. Lebel uses it while at the desk to make posters, saying, "It's awesome to have that much power and create new things."

YA librarian Miriam Chiasson appreciates the ability to create "dynamic things that will be attractive to teens." Paquette has noticed, of the summer reading materials created, "It's the first time we've had kids actually stop and look at the poster. They're actually being attracted to read."

Fischer finds specific functionality helpful, too – for example, she was able to shape their interns' work to create specific flyers for their community gardens program because she could review their work from afar. Also, she likes the Facebook post scheduling feature and is a big fan of the live chat feature from the LibraryAware support team as well: "You get answers right away!"


Chiasson also enjoys its flexibility. When Chiasson showed Paquette a poster she'd created, with text appearing over an image, Paquette didn't feel that the text was visible enough. Chiasson changed it--quickly.  Chiasson said, "It's nice to have that flexibility," adding, "you don't have to be a graphic artist to be able to do this." Social posting, also one of Chiasson's duties, is easier, too. "I appreciate being able to plan our library's social postings. It's all in the same place, which is really helpful."

Future plans

While coaching has worked so far getting most of their crew on board, Fischer would like to take greater advantage of LibraryAware training and also to use the content offered by NoveList's "really nice" readers' advisory tools in future work. She also has plans to create nice display signs for the holidays and to streamline their age group pamphlets.

Says Paquette: "It's the best investment I ever made."

Jocelyn Paquette is the Director at Campbellton Centennial Library.

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